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Vol 22, No. 03, March 2018   |   Issue PDF view/purchase
Brain ageing in ASEAN
The elderly population in ASEAN countries is rapidly aging, which brings about significant economic, social and fiscal consequences to the region. Brain aging is perhaps one of the most important challenges we will face, as it represents an integral part of our overall health and well being. Dr. Shawn Watson shares about this natural decline in our cognitive capabilities as we age.

A SEAN is trending towards an older demographic comprising a larger share of the population base. According to recent United Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN – ESCAP) data, the proportion of the total population in South-East Asia aged 60 or older is forecast to be 21.1 per cent by 2050, up from 9.6 per cent in 2016. Life expectancy, starting at 60 years of age, will also rise from roughly 18 years in 2010-2015 to 22 years in 2045-2050.

This transition from an “aging society” (comprised of 7 to 14 per cent older persons) to an “aged society” (14 to 21 per cent) is taking place at a much faster rate in many ASEAN nations when compared to other countries that have already gone through it. According to the same UN – ESCAP data, France and Sweden made this transition in 115 years and 85 years respectively, whereas Singapore and Thailand will do the same in only 22 years and Vietnam in an even shorter 19.

There are many different economic, social and fiscal considerations arising from these dramatic demographic changes in the ASEAN region. As something we all experience as we age, brain aging is arguably one of the most important contributing challenges. In the Asia Pacific alone, costs associated with dementia exceed US$185 billion. Brain aging is the natural decline in our cognitive capabilities as we age and represents an integral part of our overall health and well being. A large portion of a population collectively and rapidly experiencing brain aging has significant implications.

Comprising only 2 per cent of our body mass, our brains use 20 per cent of our oxygen – an incredible energy demand that is required day-in and day-out. This energy comes at a cost, however, as metabolism is not a perfect process and waste products can form as a by-product. Over time, this slow accumulation of damage and waste begins to deteriorate our brain cells’ ability to operate effectively. The result is that brain function declines with time, a process otherwise known as “age-related cognitive impairment”.

Our brains do possess a natural ability to defend themselves from this damage, however starting in our 20s, this ability gradually slows. When we reach our 40s, the ability of our brain cells to repair themselves starts to lag behind the rate in which damage and waste is building up, resulting in noticeable changes to our learning, memory, processing speeds and reaction times. In our 60s, our brains start to have trouble clearing out the biological waste that has slowly been building up, which may play an important role in our susceptibility to pathological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. We can also exacerbate these negative effects through lifestyle choices, such as insufficient sleep, poor diet, stress and lack of exercise.

Although dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are unnatural conditions of brain aging, our risk of developing them significantly increases as we enter our elder years. In regions such as ASEAN where the population is growing older and living longer, this presents a significant challenge that urgently needs to be addressed.

As individuals, there are many things that we can do to address this challenge. We can mitigate our risk of developing dementia’s through a proper diet (a balanced diet high in green vegetables, whole grains, cold water fish and reduced salt and sugar intake), regular exercise, social interaction and quitting smoking, which have all been clinically shown to have a positive effect on brain health.

There are also a number of exciting advances and breakthroughs in neuroscience; not only to reduce our risk of developing dementias like Alzheimer’s, but also to slow the natural progression of brain aging and lessen the negative effects that come with it. Senescence Life Sciences (“Senescence”), is pursuing exactly this.

Our initial breakthrough discovery showed that mechanisms responsible for brain aging could be directly targeted and manipulated using a unique blend of low-dose, natural-based compounds. These compounds are capable of intercepting free radical attack, preventing and slowing inflammatory cascades and increasing our brains’ natural ability to repair itself. Our subsequent research showed that we may be able to change the rate of brain aging, helping to not only preserve learning, memory and focus, but possibly delay the onset of afflictions such as Alzheimer’s.

In addition to Senescence’s pharmaceutical pursuits to combat brain aging, we have also developed two health supplements EDGE and REVIVE. Both products contain clinically proven ingredients that have a significant effect on overall brain health and performance. Unlike many other products available today, EDGE and REVIVE are not nootropics or stimulants that only provide a temporary boost in cognitive function. Rather, they are designed to be taken daily as part of a long-term strategy to combat cognitive decline. This approach, and our commitment to the highest production quality and purest ingredients, is why both products are on track to be the number one recommended brain health supplement by doctors in Singapore.

In addition to our health products, Senescence also continues to engage with universities and non-profit organizations to share knowledge, educate and help create a united front in the fight against brain aging.

Brain aging is perhaps one of the most important challenges we face. However, the future is bright, as new ideas and solutions are being generated every day. There are a growing number of initiatives, scientific research and advances taking place that Senescence is proud to be a part of, with the ultimate goal of solving one of the most pressing problems of our generation.


A rapidly aging ASEAN population is bringing significant economic, social and fiscal considerations to the region. At the forefront of these concerns are the direct and in-direct costs of age-related cognitive decline, or brain aging. Senescence Life Sciences is leading the charge of new innovative companies looking to combat this deterioration. Their approach of bringing together western neuroscience with eastern traditional medicines may prove to be the disruption the industry needs.

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